How to relieve back pain with one asana

As many of you know, I have Scoliosis in my back. Translation - my spine is crooked leaving me with chronic back pain if not managed. Nasty!

I began yoga once upon a time to address issues with stress and back pain primarily. Since then, yoga has become so much more to me, but the core of my initial practice was about trying to find ways to manage these issues, and yoga certainly brought this to me.

Looking specifically at back pain, it’s just plain awful. Believe me - I get it! I find it so odd when someone tells me they don’t know what it’s like to experience constant aches in the body… What the? This was the story of my life! What excites me, however, is knowing there are safe, non-invasive ways (that’s right, no drugs or operations) to manage the pain. The first step is to bring mobility back to the spine. Stretch it out and get the circulation pumping.

When the back is stiff and sore, I LOVE doing 7-10 rounds of Vagra Swasa Breathing (Tiger Breathing) to loosen everything up and relieve the dull ache or shooting pain. A very safe asana for anyone to practice.

How to do:

Knees and feet are parallel, hands are one forearms distance away from the knees.

*Distance is important to make sure you get the full stretch in the upper back.

Inhale - concave the spine and look up.

Exhale - arch the spine and look down. Be sure to really push up through the shoulders here. This is one round complete.

Repeat - inhale up, exhale down, inhale up, exhale down

Make sure there is no tension in the neck at all. This should be a flowing motion.

Finish coming back to a neutral position then rest back on your heels and stretch it out. Your back will love you for it!

Namaste xx

A few too many ‘fluctuations’ for my liking

Ribs hurt. Back hurts. Knees hurt. Breathing hurts. Body’s shaking. Emotions are all over the place…. But I couldn’t be happier with myself. With my situation. That pretty much sums up today.

Ok - I will break it down into a little more detail but it’s one of those nights where I am so exhausted, my mind is mush and therefore subheadings are a necessity.

A little lopsided

This morning we practiced a new Kriya (cleansing technique) called Uddiyana. This is to pull the stomach up. Take a look at this short YouTube clip to see what this looks like.

So, whilst doing this technique I noticed my belly only tucks in properly on the right side. The left doesn’t seem to tuck as far. I asked Bharath why my belly is lopsided and he said it’s nothing to do with my belly. It’s the Scoliosis in my back. Gently he explained my alignment (in my back) is quite off and he can see it quite obviously in my Sirsasana (head stand). This explains why I have to work that much harder to find my balance in this asana. He tapped me on my shoulder as if to say it’s ok, assured it can be fixed and gently smiled at me before walking away.

I’m not sure what it was that Bharath said, or if it was how he said it, but I had to hold back the tears as he walked away. Never before has the Scoliosis upset me like that before. I’m not sure if I felt as though someone felt true empathy and compassion for me, or if I just felt immensely safe with this man in that moment? Or quite possibly that I was letting him down in some way by not having this perfect back (which is absolutely not the case - I’m talking from a deeper level here that I can’t even seem to explain to myself!). All I know is the way he spoke, the kind eyes he looked at me with combined with the most gentle but assuring touch really moved me. Even writing this now I have tears in my eyes and I’m still not sure why. (Owen has this problem with me often…). I must be going through one of those “fluctuations” Bharath always warns us about! They are meant to become more intense during this part of the course so that’s quite possibly going on under the surface.

Do the Chakrasana Walk!

Not only is the Shala becoming a sauna the more Mysore heats up, but our training is heating up also. I love our evening classes. Bharath calls the evening classes an “Innovation Series”. Essentially this is the time to learn the more advanced asanas like Pincha Mayurasana (which I spoke about late last week). As we have been working with Chakrasana (back bend / wheel) for sometime now, Bharath offered for those who were comfortable to bring their practice to the next level by walking the length of the Shala in Chakrasana. Only myself and one other girl attempted this. With legs already shaking from the 2 repetitions we had already completed on our mats just moments before, I went to the wall at the back of the class and prepared to walk. My legs are getting very strong the more I work here. In Chakrasana in particular I am becoming quite sturdy. I lifted myself off the ground and after a few steps to get the rhythm, I relatively quickly walked on my hands and feet from one wall to another and then back again, using the lines of the tiles as my guide for where to go. I swear the room quadrupled in size whilst I was doing this! It was quite an achievement I thought. Toward the end of the walk my arms and legs were shaking and my breathing was becoming louder and harsher. I wanted to give up about mid-way on the return, but in my head I just kept repeating, “keep going, do not give up, you’re nearly there, this will be an awesome achievement, focus, breathe, almost there.” So far I am the only person in the class who can do this (not that that means anything - just awesome to be able to do it).

We’ve also moved into our handstands. Bharath said I was very good at these. My problem is I don’t know how to leave the wall, but Bharath assured that is coming. By this point, in tonight’s class, my arms were turning to jelly. I was exhausted -  as I am now.

So, after a cold shower (not by choice) I’m in bed and praying to sleep through for once. I have more work to do with my thesis, but the plan is an early night. I’m unusually tired at the moment so i need to listen to my body and rest it well. I also need to try and manage these ‘fluctuations’ - God knows I don’t need anymore of these!!

Namaste xx

Some pictures from my day. I always take time to try and ‘see’

Why not?

Coconut anyone?

Yummy but not before class again…